Shinji Kagawa is on the verge of completing a £12million move from German cup and league double winners Borussia Dortmund to Manchester United. After the Red Devils missed out on Belgian star Eden Hazard Fergusson has moved swiftly to capture the 23 year-old Japanese ace. However, are Manchester United buying the player based on the belief of his star quality? Or just to maintain their overseas income from support in Asia?
Kagawa has been on the radar of most of England’s top clubs this summer after an excellent season for the midfielder. Having previously been linked with the likes of Arsenal, Spurs and Liverpool, a deal looks set to be completed with the red side of Manchester with now only personal terms to be agreed upon.
Nevertheless, the fact that he isn’t an established star could lead some to seeing the deal as a way of Manchester United keeping up their regular cash flow from the other side of the globe, backed up by the fact that Asia take up a major part of their fan base, around 300 million of their 600 million ‘followers’, helped by the likes of Asian player Ji-Sung Park.
Ji-Sung Park had been a key figure in United’s popularity in Asia, as he is one of the most decorated Asian players of all time, with him being the only Asian player to take part and win in a Champions League final as an example. With popularity came support, and since his £4million move from PSV at the end of 2004-2005 season, he has helped add to the cash flow United have received and continue to receive from abroad.
However, with Park being limited more and more to first team opportunities, United chiefs may fear a decline in support and consequently commercial revenue, therefore the arrival of Kagawa would reignite and maintain support and consequently commerce too in Asia.
Nevertheless, the financial benefits of Kagawa’s arrival should not been seen in my opinion as the only reason for his move to the Premier League. Having watched clips of Kagawa, it is clear that he is an attack-minded central midfield player, something United have missed throughout this season between the flanks.
With the likes of Scholes and Carrick able to anchor forward moves, Kagawa will look to make late runs into the box to feed on pull-backs from wide players, as well being able to make bursts through the middle, with the added benefit of being able to play on the wing as well. He possesses exceptional agility, and has an excellent change of pace.
Furthermore, United fans will be pleased to know that he does find the net, scoring 17 goals from 47 appearances in all competitions, as well as laying on 13 for his team mates this season at Dortmund. His stats record throughout his career is also impressive, most notably surpassing Eden Hazard’s career record, something which will appease many disheartened United fans. (Kagawa: 198 apps, 86 goals and 45 assists; Hazard: 192 apps, 50 goals and 38 assists)
Shinji Kagawa clearly fits the mould of an ideal United signing, relatively inexpensive, relatively unproven and still young with time to improve. Though he may not already possess the star quality that United fans crave, with many seeing it as a deal for the financial benefits, he does have the potential to become a quality player; whether he reaches it or not only time will tell.